There was no diary found of Neil Howie's for the year 1868. What follows are items from the local Montana newspapers of that year. The Montana Post was owned and operated by the Republican (Unionist) U.S. Marshal George M. Pinney and the Helena Weekly Herald was primarily a Democrat(Confederate) paper.
The Montana Post(M.P.) 1‑18‑68, p7,c1
N.H. is appointed Brigadier General by Gov. Green Clay Smith on 1‑11‑68. X takes prisoner William Herron from Virginia back to Helena for trial.
Rocky Mountain Gazette(R.M.G.) 1‑16‑68 p3 c1
Genl. Howie accidentally shoots self, treated by Dr. J.S. Glick.
Helena Weekly Herald(H.W.H.) 1‑23‑68
Neil Howie & Fisk return to Helena after being gone for 2 months.
Neil Howie appoints J.J. Hull DUSM, Howie & Fisk arrive at Va. City; Murder of Smoot in McClellan Gulch"...A meeting was called and three men appointed to arrest the guilty parties, "X" fashion, without papers...".
DUSM A.B. Davis arrested John Ewing for complicity to murder of Frank Hanna at Sterling, M.T.(near Norris). X on a pleasure trip in the Mountains.
J.X. Beidler & Birkin arrive in Helena with prisoner Rolund. Col. Howie appoints J.J. Hull, DUSM at V.A. City
Robert L. Lane to work for U.S. Marshals at Helena
Neil Howie left on Wednesday's coach with prisoner Thomas O. Rolund for Crow Creek(near Radersburg) for preliminary examination for killing Clement Saville, Shober is prosecuting.
John Closser,owner, Planter's House, Helena, M.T.
George F. Cowan, DUSM, Helena, M.T.
N.H. arrives in Va City from Helena, 2 week stay. John Featherstun arrives at V.A. City from Crow Creek with prisoner Rolund.
J.X. Beidler is looking for whites selling liquors to indians.
Joe Logan Bogus Dust Operator
Neil Howie leaves Helena for Gallatin on important business.
John H. Featherstun leaving for California for 3 months, Neil Howie returns from Gallatin.
"The recent stage robbery ‑ Up to last accounts the robbers had not been captured. The men who went in pursuit of them have not returned to Pleasant Valley, and the U.S. Marshal and his deputies are now at work at the case. It is thought that the friends of the Road Agents have them secreted in Boise City or somewhere in the vicinity."
William Herron acquitted of the murder of Elk Morse.
George M. Pinney going to New Haven, Conn. to attend the Collegiate and Commercial Institute of General Wm H. Russell. [returns 8‑21‑68]
"RUMOURED MURDER.‑The following letter was received by "X" Biedler yesterday:
Fort Benton, Aug 1, 1868.
Friend "X" ‑ Your horse was found here in town tied to a hitching post the second morning after you left. Your saddle and rifle was on all right. The mare looked as though she had been rode hard. I hear your witness was hung on the Teton. Have no sure evidence of it's truth, but think it is true.
Yours, * * *
The explanation of this is: "X" as Deputy U.S. Marshal, summoned as a witness Charley Williams, to appear in the U.S. Court in Helena on a certain case. X gave him his horse, saddle and rifle and started him from Benton at 10 am on the evening of July 28. X followed in the coach four hours after. He heard of Williams having passed Jack Rann's, five miles out, all right. The next heard of him is that he was hung within three miles of Benton within the next forty‑eight hours. Benton and vicinity has been un usually free from affrays the present season, and it is unfortunate that a witness summoned before the U.S. Court should be one of the first victims. We expect to have definite information by next mail."
Mrs. Guyot murdered, "The Old Frenchwoman".
The Frenchwoman's Ranch
A stage station that was located where the Mullan Road met the Little Blackfoot River, east of present day Elliston, Montana. In article that appeared in the Feb. 2, 1881 issue of The River Press, Ft. Benton, Montana, where eye‑witness "Uncle Billy" Hamilton‑ DUSM & Sheriff of Choteau Co. describes the station and the night of the bloody murder of the Frenchwoman, Mrs. Guyot.
"...Was there just fifteen years ago this summer. Had put up there ‑ she was a neat looking critter ‑ black‑haired, black‑eyed, and sharp and cute lookin', may be thirty years old, an' a good housekeeper. She was on the rustle, and made a living by keepin' a sort of hotel for us rovin' miners ‑ did well at it too ‑ charged a dollar a meal and two for lodgin', an' I've seen thirty men spread on the floor asleep many a time. Them was good times then, pard, and plenty of dust. Some of the boys said as the Frenchman that stayed around there was not hers by law, but it was none of our business, and we cared little for them things them days.
Fifteen years ago about this time I stopped there, an' there was three others besides me. I felt kinder strange that night and didn't sleep well. Woke up about 12 o'clock an' was thirsty an' feverish, so got up an' went out to the spring, about forty yards away.
The moon was a shinin' bright ‑ just about as she will to‑night. I was layin' down to the spring drinkin', an' was about to get up, when I saw the horns an' head of the biggest elk you ever saw, coming to the spring. Well, I shot him, strange, jus' where he stood, an' I doubt if he ever saw me. Together with thinkin' an' drinkin' an' killin' of the elk, an' lookin' at him, I was gone half an hour or more, an' when I got back to the house, an' went into the barroom on the way to bed ‑ there was the Frenchwoman, as I live, stranger, a lying in the corner, near the fireplace, with her head split open with an ax, an' the ax all blood was by her side.
Pardner, my hair raised, I tell you. Then I raised the boys, an' we tried to think who it was as had done the deed. The other boys was a whisperin' together an' glancing at me, an' I knew they'd suspicioned me, an' I knew they'd hang me up in a minnit if the suspicion took fair holt, an' I said, 'None of that, boys,' then I told them as how it was about my wakin'up, goin' to the spring, an' about the elk; an' they went out an' found 'twas so; then we suspicioned her feller, the Frenchman, an' we got him out an' told him to fess up, as he must pass in his checks; but he said he was innocent, an' as how he thought lots about her.
In the mornin' we took him out to a fir tree near where the woman is buried, an' we strung him up, an' then let him down again; but he stuck to it that he was innocent, an' we strung him up three times, stranger, but he still stuck to it that he was innocent, an' we let him go.
No one ever knew for certain who killed the Frenchwoman, but we always suspicioned her feller. Well, the sheriff came down, an' he found $8,000 in dust an' money hid away in her fireplace ‑ they have got it boarded up now ‑ an' he said she had as much more in the bank at Helena.
But we buried her near the fir tree where we had strung up her feller, an' put a little fence around to keep off the coyotes, an' there she is yet, an' so is the tree an' the fence. And that's why I hate to put up there, stranger."
From the Daily Herald of September 24
EXAMINATION OF GEO. M. PINNEY FOR SHOOTING COL. S.W. BEALL
Before U.S. Commissioner Corneilus Hedges
George M. Pinney was brought before U.S. Commissioner Corneilus Hedges, at the Court House in this city, at 10 o'clock today.
.... Neal Howie, U.S. Marshal, was called - Was passing by the office of the Montana Post at about 2 o'clock p.m., on Friday last. Heard two shots. Jumped from my buggy and rushed in. Found a person lying on the floor, who proved to be Gov. Beall. Saw a mark of blood on his eye-brow, and tho't first he was hurt there, but found he was shot in the cheek.
.... He(Pinney) told me he was writing in his office. Heard Col. Beall's voice, and looked up. Saw Mr. Beall, who asked him to .... leave the room with him. Pinney said he told him he would not go. Col. Beall then drew a pistol and placed it behind him. .... Beall then threw his hand towards him (Pinney) with the pistol. Pinney jumped on one side, and drew his revolver. Went towards corner counter. Beall came towards him, and it became a dodging game. Pinney's pistol snapped and he thought he was gone. He fired twice, and Beall fell.
.... Took pistol from Beall's hand. Found a pistol on Pinney when I arrested him. It was a self-cocking pistol. A person skilled in its use could fire five shots in three seconds. Col. Beall had a cartridge derringer. It was cocked. .... When I took Pinney's pistol two chambers were empty, and one cap had been snapped.
.... the counsel for the prosecution had decided to purse the case no further. .... Mr. Pinney was then discharged.
Neil Howie takes a pistol away from a miner, who was fighting, at the Occidental about 8 pm.
Neil Howie throw from a horse while returning from the 1st annual fair of Montana (Helena) ‑ injured his right arm and hip.
"From Saturday's Daily"
FROM BENTON AND BELOW. ‑ "X" comes back from Benton, after an absence of over a month from us, clothed in buckskin. His talking machine is in perfect order, entirely discounting the praying machines of the Hindoos, and by means of it we gather some interesting items from the lower river, which we here briefly give our readers.
"X" has been most of the time at Fort Peck, and the Indians have been making themselves odious in the vicinity of that post during the greater portion of the time that "X" was there. One hundred and twenty‑five tons of freight, landed at the point mentioned by the North Alabama, were placed in charge of our well known friend with the name of the unknown quantity, and a sorry time he had of defending it.
The Crows hovered around him to receive their annuities. They continue to hover, knocked the chinking out of the stockade and amused themselves by firing arrows into the cattle. Subsequently they "went for" a party of Sioux in the vicinity, killed three of them and had a war dance. Hardly had the Crows left the scene of action before 200 Sioux surrounded the fort. They seemed to regard the late fight between their nation and the Crows as, to some extent, prosecuted under the auspices of the whites, and they had no friendly feelings towards the latter. The whites avoided trouble for the time being by treating them to coffee and other pale face delicacies. But a short time elapsed before a collision took place between the Crow and Sioux over towards the Muscleshell, resulting in the loss of fifteen men to the latter and three hundred head of horses to the former. Having got their hand in for fighting, the Sioux returned to Fort Peck, surrounded it, and kept up a fight with the whites for six hours. The garrison were uninjured, but a white man named Sears was killed and scalped at a short distance from the fort. His body was found to contain forty arrows, two minnie bals and three knives. Several cattle were also killed.
Five whites, "X" among the number at course, made a charge upon the Indians as they were retiring, recapturing several cattle that they were driving away, and it is believed killed four or five of the Sioux. The party of Indians which attacked the fort was that of "Sitting Bull" who appeared mounted upon a black horse and with a "war bonnet" ornamented with eagle's feathers streaming to the ground.
The goods in which "X" was in charge, were finally loaded upon Garrison's and Bird's trains, and the freighting caravan started for Benton, escorted by thirty soldiers under Lieutenants Townsend and Newman. Arrived in the vicinity of the "Big Bend" they found a large party of probably one thousand Arapahoes in their road. Inasmuch as this same band had killed some of the oxen while these trains were on their way down, the whites did not feel particularly friendly towards them and refused to accede to their wishes by giving them anything. With commendable bravery, Lieutenants Townsend and Newman with their men, demanded that the Indians should give room for the whites. The determined action of the pale faces had the desired effect and the Arapahoes succumbed.
Numerous other adventures with which "X" met, are highly interesting, but the individual referred to, tells them so rapidly and our space is so limited that we cannot give them to our readers.
"Trails Plowed Under" - Charles M. Russell(1937)
"The upper Missouri River steamboats, they used to say, would run on a light dew, 'an certainly they used to get by where there was mighty little water. X. Beidler an' his friend, Major Reed, are traveling by boat to Fort Benton. One night they drink more than they should. X. is awakened in the morning by the cries of Reed. On entering his stateroom, X. finds Reed begging for water, as he's dying of thirst.
X. steps to the bedside, and takin' his friend's hand, says: "I'm sorry, major, I can't do anything for you. That damned pilot got drunk, too, last night, and we're eight miles up a dry coulee!"
"General Neil Howie, we are glad to say has returned, court in Virginia City having dissolved. His duties as U.S. Marshal having ended, he returns to receive the greetings of his multitude of friends. He gives glowing accounts of Virginia City, particularly the society, and reports one case of the "Grecian Bend"..."
"From Saturday's Daily"
WM. H. BERKIN, Esq., Deputy U.S. Marshal of Montana, arrived in this city last night from Salt Lake City, where he has been, armed with an requisition from Gov. Tufts of Montana, for the bodies of two horse thieves ‑ Powell and Charles Williamson ‑ who had stolen horses in Boulder Valley and other portions of the country, and with them had been captured and taken to Salt Lake.
Mr. Berkin, on his arrival, presented his requisition, and by virtue of it demanded that the criminals should be surrendered to him as offenders against the Territory of Montana. A writ of habeus corpus was served out before Judge Wilson, and the result was that Powell turned State's evidence and Williamson was bound over in the sum of $1,500 to appear at the next term of the District Court, which is to meet in Salt Lake in March next. Mr. Berkin had interviews with the Governor and Territorial officials of Utah, and in regard to the refusal to deliver up the criminals, which was for the reason that while they conceded that stealing horses in a neighboring Territory, is a crime and punishable according to the laws thereof; yet the fact of finding the same men in Utah, with the stolen property in their possession, constitutes a crime in and of itself, and for which the criminals are amenable to the laws of Utah. Hence, being under arrest for the crime of possession, and sufficient evidence being in the hands of the courts to convict them, they were subject to the authorities of Utah. This was the view the Territorial officials took of the matter, and the reasons assigned for the non‑delivery under the requisition of Governor Tufts.
Mr. Berkin very properly received from Governor Durkee a statement, giving the reasons why they were not delivered, which may explain the affair more satisfactorily. We apprehend that the true reason for the non‑delivery, is founded on the fact that these criminals were Mormons. Williamson having a father and wife among the Mormons, and the Saints realizing the fact that justice would determine their future status in society, if they were tried in Montana, determined not to allow them to be subjected to the ordeal, and resolved to try them according to their peculiar method. Mr. Berkin is entitled to much credit for his earnest and untiring efforts to bring these outlaws to justice. He expresses his obligations to Mr. Tracy, and the officers of the Wells Fargo & Co., for their many kindness and favors.
We trust that this affair has taught a lesson that will be heeded in the future. If Mormons will come up into the valleys of Montana to steal horses, and with their plunder fly to the protecting arms of Mormon friends, our only remedy is to see that they never reach the Utah border, and while we are no advocate of unlawful acts or individual justice, yet a lonely and unmarked grave in every valley, indicating the subsiding of some of these midnight riders, would soon bring safety to the property of our citizens.
N.H. & X return to Helena from Deer Lodge.